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Saturday, Feb 13, 2016

Sun Seeker: 2012 Chrysler 200C

Ah, Florida in winter. Adios humidity, hello blue skies and cool temps. It's the perfect time to be cruising in a convertible.

When most of us picture a drop-top, it's usually the low-slung, two-seat variety.

But what happens when you want friends to share your open-air adventures and drives to the beach? You'll likely park the convertible at home.

The solution is a four-seater. But unless you pay big bucks for a luxury model, there are surprisingly few choices, especially if you want to spend less than $30k.

That's where Chrysler's newly re-minted 200 Convertible comes in. With prices starting at $26,575, it offers proper stretch-out seating for four, fresh, new styling, and if you want to spend a little more, the option of a power-folding hardtop.

The last-generation Sebring Convertible model got more criticism than an "American Idol" reject. Rightly so. It came standard with mediocre quality, a cheap interior and wheezy V6 engine.

For this latest, re-badged 200 drop-top, Chrysler has done a fine job, on a tight budget, of giving the car a fresh, stylish new look – especially at the front – and a classier interior full of softer-touch materials.

Power-wise, take your pick from a carry-over 2.4-liter four-cylinder, or Chrysler's excellent, new 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, both of which come with a six-speed AutoStick automatic.

Don't expect driving excitement with either engine – that's not what the 200 Convertible is about. Instead, punch a button, watch the top glide smoothly back and feel the sun on your face.

You'll pay an extra $1,995 for the power folding hardtop, but it's worth it to have two cars in one – convertible and coupe.

While this open top Chrysler is far from perfect, it does provide a cool way to enjoy the warm Florida winter.

Tampa-based auto writer Howard Walker can be reached at walkweb@verizon.net.

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